How to Dress for Your Body Type

How to Dress for Your Body Type

It can be difficult to find the right outfits that flatter you if you are not fully aware of your body type. Knowing what body type you are and what silhouettes work best and which ones to stay away from can greatly help to make you look like a well-dressed gentleman.

Tips For All Body Types

1. The goal is to invest in clothes that flatter you, highlight your strengths, and make your weaknesses advantageous.

2. If you have a t-shirt or a polo shirt that is very thin, with just one layer of fabric, it is harder to hide the imperfection in your body. On the other hand, if you wear a suit, you have a much more structured garment that can glide over things, hide things, and make you look really dapper. You may not like it, but human beings like proportional looks and proportions change with the society you live in, as well as age. Overall, a non-extreme look will always be more timeless and classic and flattering for you.

3. If you have wide shoulders, you would want to give the appearance of being a little slimmer. If you have very slim shoulders, you want to give the appearance of being a little wider. Overall, the extremes are something you want to avoid.

4. You may not always be trendy but having a timeless wardrobe that stands the test of time means you’ll always look stylish without being over the top fashionable.

5. It’s essential that you have your clothing tailored because that way can you highlight what works and make sure that the sleeve length is correct. Most of us, including me, have one arm that is longer than the other.

6. Make sure to dress for the body you have today because if you aspire to be something in the future, you may end up with a suit that just doesn’t look good and you may never get there.

Historical Timeline of Style Proportions

If you look back in history and look at the 1920’s, you saw men with slim pants and slim jackets.

The 30’s had changed, and everything got wider. You had more drape, wider lapels, full cut trousers with a high-rise.

The 40’s were impacted by the war, so you saw single breasted jackets, no double-breasted jackets because they had to save fabric.

The 50’s, things got slimmer again; skinny ties, skinny lapels.

1970s style

1970s style

In the 70’s everything was bolder, bigger.

1980s unstructured garments

1980s unstructured garments

And in the 80’s, you had these unstructured garments with lots of shoulder padding.

So over time, the sense of proportions change. But if you wear a suit with a lapel that’s about 3-3 1/2 inches, that’s neither too slim nor too wide. You could have worn that throughout history and never be out of style.

What Are The Different Body Types?

The first thing you want to understand is what your body type is. For example, both my shoulders are sloped. But one of them is about 2 inches lower than the other. So with a suit, you can add a different amount of padding and make it level, so it looks advantageous and not off. My shoulders look far more level in a suit than they look in a polo shirt. This okay because a tailor can either add more shoulder padding and leave it out or cut it in a way so you get fewer wrinkles.

1. The Rectangular

The first body type is the rectangular body type. It’s a proportional look. It means that the width of your shoulders is about as wide as your hips. It’s a very masculine style and something all of the men aspire to. If you’re lucky enough to have that body style, there’s hardly anything you can’t wear because most of the things will look good on you even if they come off the rack. Overall, if you wear something, make sure it’s consistent. Let’s say you get a suit that is wider on top that has wider lapels. You also want wider pants. If you go with a slimmer lapel, let’s say about 3 inches, make sure your pants are also cut trimmer. You want to keep it proportional throughout and not have something that is extremely wide on top and extremely slim at the bottom.

Trousers double inward facing pleats

Trousers double inward facing pleats

A rectangle can be different things. It can be a slim rectangle or a wider rectangle. You want to strive for something in the middle so if you are very skinny; you should get something that is about 3 1/2 inches in the lapels with some fullness but nothing that is too skinny. Same thing if you are very wide, you don’t want to emphasize that even further and maybe go with something a little slimmer. Something that works nicely with your body type is a vest or a waistcoat because it covers your middle section but it just highlights your framework, and it’s always very advantageous. You can also wear bolder patterns such as houndstooth, wider stripes, or windowpanes because they are quite flattering for your type.

If you are shorter and wider but still rectangular, I suggest not to wear any skinny clothes because they make you look wider and proportion to your lapels. Therefore, you want something that’s at least 3 1/4, maybe 3 1/2 inches wide in the lapels, so it looks advantageous and flattering.

People of regular height can have a buttoning point that is around the natural waist which is the belly button. If you’re a little shorter, you should move that up a little bit so that gives you a longer neckline and makes you look taller. If you are a shorter rectangular body type, I suggest sticking with smaller patterns like stripes that are closer together. It makes you look taller and proportion to the patterns. However, if you’re a tall guy, wear bigger patterns because it doesn’t make you stand out too much.

2. The Triangular

The next body type is triangular body type. It’s called that way because your hips are wider than your shoulders. Oftentimes, it also means you have sloped shoulders. To counteract that, add a little bit of shoulder padding so they’re built up and look more like a rectangular body type. Because your hips are wider, you should try to go for a neatly cut jacket that doesn’t emphasize the width of your hip. You also want to wear pants that sit on your natural waist and you want to avoid a belt because it just adds that extra width to your hips which are already wide.

 

Most of the time, men with a triangular body type have a slimmer chest and to give them a little bit more fullness, It’s suggested to get a little bit of drape. A drape is extra fabric over your shoulder blades, your chest, to just make you look more muscular. You want to avoid a low buttoning point that’s close to your hips because it will just emphasize the width of your hips even more. I suggest you go with wider lapels, especially peak lapels because they make the top part of your body wider than it actually is. It does not matter if it’s a single-breasted or double-breasted jacket, both will look good as long as the lapels are wide. I suggest 3.75 or even 4 inches for a proper look.

For overcoats, I suggest to go with something like a trench coat and get some epaulets because it builds up your shoulder visually and flatters your body type. Avoid skinny pants that sit too low on your hips. Rather go with fuller cut trouser and a higher rise on your natural waist. It’s not just more comfortable, but it’s also more flattering for your specific body type. If you have bigger thighs like me, I suggest getting pleats. Personally, I like double inward facing pleats because it gives more room especially when I sit and walk. I would also suggest using with suspenders or if you don’t like them and the feeling on your shoulders, go with side adjusters. Don’t get anything that makes your hips wider.

3. The Inverted Triangle

The next body type is the inverted triangle. It’s the opposite of the triangular body type. It’s when your shoulders are wider than your bottom section. Usually, it’s a silhouette that is found in men who like to work out especially their upper body. And so sometimes, their legs are very thin. The look can almost get comical when you are just too muscular on top and you look like a football player. While many men strive to be more muscular, this is a very difficult body type to tailor for.

Fuller cut trousers

Fuller cut trousers

Again, you want to look proportional which means your top has to look slightly slimmer and your bottom slightly wider. No worries! People will still be able to see that you’re working out. Unless you have sloped shoulders, I suggest avoiding shoulder pads. Go with a slimmer cut trim jacket. Just make sure that you have enough space in your sleeves so you can move. With bigger arms, that may be an area where you have issues when you want to move around freely. Avoid wide peak lapels and go for something slimmer, maybe 3 and a quarter inch and notched lapels. Ideally, choose single-breasted suit only because double breasted suits will look too wide and you’re already wide on top. You don’t want to look even wider!

Don’t go overly skinny because it looks comical. If your body type is the inverted triangle, you should probably try to get something custom made because off the rack things will hardly ever fit you because you are just too big on top. You are likely to go up a size, that means everything gets wider and everything is slimmer at the bottom. Try to have something custom-made with someone who has experience with tailoring garments for guys who workout.

Straigth Leg pants

Straight Leg pants

Something I see with men who are muscular in the chest is a break in the lapel when they stand. It’s something your tailor has to accommodate for. Because you want to emphasize the bottom part, I suggest not to go with skinny pants, go with something that’s cut a little fuller so the overall look is more proportional. In theory, the boot cut is a good idea but honestly, it looks rather dated and so I suggest you go with a straight leg and not a boot cut.

Slimmer fit pants

Slimmer fit pants

4. The Trapezoid

The next body type is the trapezoid. It is wide in the shoulders and then not super slim but slightly slimmer on the hips. It’s also a very masculine look. It’s somewhere in between the rectangular and inverted triangle. You can wear almost anything but I suggest that you avoid something extremely wide on top and at the bottom.

You can even go with something slimmer like slimmer fit pants or some fuller cut pants because you’re not overly slim down there. Again, avoid the extremes, no super wide lapels with super skinny pants. Otherwise, you can wear anything.

5. The Oval

Next up is the oval body type. It’s usually men who have a stronger mid-section, have a few extra pounds on their hips but you can still look great. The goal for you is to focus attention away from your mid-section which you can do, by wearing a vest. It helps you slim down your mid-section and emphasize your overall dapperness. A jacket also helps because it’s more structured. It builds up your hips and your chest. In combination with the vest particularly in dark colors, you can look very dapper and you can look much slimmer than you actually are.

Avoid belts and go with suspenders instead with pants that are a little more high-waisted because it gives you that long leg line and it makes you look overall, slimmer. Get pleated pants because you want the extra width and for your body type, it’s just more flattering. Avoid double-breasted garments because they make you look wider and you want to stay away from super skinny looks because they also make you look proportionally bigger than you are.

Striped three piece suit

Striped three piece suit

If you want to look stylish, go with three-piece suits that are matching in dark colors, maybe even with a stripe because that way you will look like a million bucks. Go for vertical stripes, not horizontal ones, because they make you look slimmer. Don’t make a mistake of trying to get a jacket that is too tight. But once you have a vest, the advantage is that you can wear your jacket unbuttoned which is comfortable, and it makes you look even slimmer.

One thing I see a lot of times with men in oval body type shape is they have ties that are long, and they drape along the belly and sometimes extend beyond the waistband. That’s a very unfavorable look because it highlights your crotch area and makes you look big. Therefore, tie your ties a little shorter and wear them underneath the vest.

Sven Raphael Schneider with full cut trousers pants

Sven Raphael Schneider with full cut trousers pants

CONCLUSION

If you are wondering, my body type is a mix. I have very wide hips so that would make me more of a triangle. Luckily, I don’t have a small chest, but I have very sloped shoulders so personally, I prefer to wear pants with pleats that are on my natural waist. I prefer to wear suspenders, and I like to wear all kinds of suits.

I stay away from super skinny lapels. I go with medium wide ones to wide ones like double breasted. I like single breasted with notched and peaked lapels, and I try to have collars that are nicely sized and flatter my face meaning they are not super wide and not super pointed. Overall, I try to keep it balanced and that way, I’ve been able to wear suits and garments for many years without ever going out of style.

Summary
How to Dress for Your Body Type
Article Name
How to Dress for Your Body Type
Description
Discover your unique body type and learn which outfits look great on you and which ones to avoid.
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Publisher
Gentleman's Gazette LLC
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8 replies
  1. Jetemy says:

    I find your articles very helpful. They are so thoughtful and so reasonable. I appreciate your taking the time to get into the subtle details of these things and find appropriate solutions.

    Reply
  2. W. ADAM MANDELBAUM says:

    They could sure have used your article before making the last two Bond movies. Craig wore “too” suits. Too short and too tight! As always, top notch advice on the best men’s dressing site on our planet. Danke!

    Reply
  3. Suzanne Kauss says:

    Thank you, great topic. I just hope my freshman in college, identical twin grandsons, watch your video. Nicely arranged.

    Reply

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